Hurricane Maria

The Days Following Maria – The Devastation Continues

Day 8: Tuesday, 9-26-17

The saga continues. No phone service, no internet, no cable, no power, no water, no fuel and no contact with the outside world. I still had no idea what to do with the post office. Our main goal for the day was to get fuel. It’s funny how something so easy and change overnight. Liam convinced us to drive to the marina as the marina was supposed to supply fuel to its marina slip holders. We thought this is perfect. Let’s head out.

While at the marina we took a small boat tour of all the other damaged boats. We saw a 48-foot Jeanneau completely destroyed in the mangroves. We had just met the owners the week before. They bought the boat a few months earlier and actually hadn’t really sailed anywhere yet. They paid over $180,000 and did not have insurance. We met another owner that sailed his Ameal 54 south 300 miles to get out of the path of this hurricane. The owner of the marina told me he might close. He lost 70% of his boats during this storm. The marina has room for about 75 boats with a normal vacancy rate of 10-15%. We tried to get gas at the marina but the gas pump didn’t work so we headed home after a cold shower at the marina.

On the way home we found out that Claro cellphone service was up and running. I couldn’t believe it. More good news. It turns out that once the cell tower received fuel for its generator, thieves broke into that tower and stole the diesel fuel out of that generator. Now Claro cell service is out as quick as it came online. We are now hearing about car jacking’s, robberies, break-ins. We have also heard that people have been caught drilling holes in automobiles fuel tanks and draining the fuel out. This is crazy.

I forgot to mention that “Ley Seca” is also in affect. This is a law that eliminates the sale of alcohol during a time of stress. No one can get Beer, wine or mojitos. Not sure the timing for that law is good right now.

Day 9: Finally, its Wednesday, 9-27-17

Everything is back to normal.

Just kidding it got worse. All banks are closed and ATM’s have been turned off completely due to theft. Marshall Law is in effect after 7:00 pm every night. Marshall Law is no longer enforced by the local police. The National Guard took it over and will be enforcing that now. I believe the fine for being out past 7:00 pm is $200 and a nice trip to jail. All diesel fuel has been commandeered by the feds and cannot be sold to the public. On a positive note, I didn’t have to work again today and I found a fresh water well only a few houses away. Yeah, we have water now. We just have to carry it back and forth.

We also cleared out the room upstairs. The water damage was so worse than we thought. We had to throw out so much stuff. It is so sad to see memories, photographs and keep sacks ruined. Around 6:30 am I went to the post office again. No news and all gates are still secured but today something from the Postal Service was placed on my gate at the Rincon Post Office. It said all Postal Employees must call a 1-800 # daily if they cannot report to work due to circumstances related to the hurricane. Really, did someone forget the phones don’t work? (No cellphones, no land lines, WTF!) Jezzzzzzzzzz, I can come up with a few more words that better describe that note on the gate but I won’t. That was so disappointing to see that. That was the only message we received since before the hurricane.

It was reported that people are drilling holes in gas tanks and draining all the fuel out of parked cars. We actually saw someone doing this to a car at a repair shop. It could have been his car but I doubt it. All fuel sales and alcohol sales have been halted for the next two weeks. I think it is just a matter of time before the population revolts. I write todays info sitting on my roof protecting the house and cars from possible intruders. What I would do to have a gun right now rather than my kitchen knife.. I’m probably a little paranoid but since Marshall Law went into effect it has been a very different Puerto Rico.

I stayed awake until 3:00 am when the last walkers past the house with flashlights. It might be a good time to be paranoid.

Day 10: Finding Fuel

We all woke around 5:00 AM. And made breakfast and headed off to find gas and water. We drove past the post office and saw no new movement. All communication is still down. We headed down to the marina as there was a rumor we could fill up the car and some gas cans there. On the way down there we saw multiple cars parked along the highway. Ok, it’s more like miles of cars lined up waiting for gas stations to open. It turns out everyone is running out of gas waiting in line. Some people wait for 10 hours just to get $20 worth of fuel or when they get to the pump it runs out of fuel. We arrived at the marina at 8:00 am and filed up five (5) gallon cans and the car. The owner of the marina said for us not to tell anyone because the marina sells fuel at a different rate than gas stations and he could get into a lot of trouble. He also said he is only doing this for marina slip holders. Before we knew it he was sold out. One item is now checked off our list.

We ended up using almost all of the remaining cash for gas. We hope that the ATM’s would be working soon. Rumor is next Monday? It’s the little things that matter, right? We were so happy to have fuel and be able to accomplish at least one thing today. We stayed for a bit and worked on the boat. The marina looks like a ghost town. We are one of ten boats in the entire marina. The lock boxes at each dock and the shore power boxes are gone. The storm cleaned the dock completely off. When you look around the harbor the mangroves are still full of boats; upside down, on top of trees, on top of other boats. It is a mess. The looters have already started stripping boats. In some cases when they couldn’t get in so they used chain saws to get in and take the motors out. They cut the deck off our friends Jenneau. That boat could have been saved, but not now. If the owners had access to cash, they could have paid off some the fisherman to help move the boats out of the mangroves but all banks and ATM’s are closed. This just made it appear that all the boats were abandoned. It is very sad.

Our boat is safe in the marina with the security of armed guards. It would have been a good place to stay if the marina had power, water or any other services. Everything is gone. So off we went again, trying to be as positive as possible. Liam’s school passed the word around that they needed help at the school to clean up the debris and cut tree limbs. We dropped him off and headed out to find a tarp to cover the holes in the roof. Normally, that would be an easy task but all the stores are closed, all the banks are closed and all the bars are closed. I understand two of those would not have tarps but it is nice to have options. Plus, a mojito would be nice since we have gone through so much.

We found a tarp at a local corner store called a Ferreteria. I probably spelled that wrong. They have virtually everything you need behind the counters. You don’t get to walk around. You just have to ask (En Espanól). I think tarps are normally pretty cheap but they charged $25 each for a $5.00 tarp. I guess it’s the supply and demand thing again. We then went home and installed the gold plated tarp. I am a little afraid of heights so I really didn’t enjoy that. After that it rained and I mean rained.

I quickly took all my clothes off and stood under a rain gutter with a bar of soap. It was an amazing shower. I stood under that rain gutter for at least an hour. Before long Madison limped out in her undies and found her own rain gutter. We looked so silly. The neighbors started to cheer as they had never seen us act like that. We felt so relieved and relaxed. It was a great mid-day break. After that we filled up a 20 milk jugs with rain water. We use the rain water/gray water to flush toilets. I then decided to reroute the cistern/extra water supply. Apparently, the water softener needs power to allow water to follow down from the roof. We don’t have power now or for the near future. I cut the water lines and bypassed the water softener. We only have about 200 gallons of water on the roof so we need to be extra careful with that. After that I drove to a natural spring and collected 10 gallons of fresh drinking water. I finally sat down and realized I better check the refrigerator. Last night it just didn’t seem cold. So I defrosted the fridge and cleaned it out. I then plugged it back in and turned on the generator. I was told if you don’t open the fridge it is fine to only plug it in for three hours a day. So as the captain of this roofless ship I instructed everyone to leave the fridge alone.

We have had some problems with this fridge before. We all went to bed around 9:00 PM. Liam and I, are standing guard overlooking the cars from the roof. We both made small beds on separate sides of the roof. We heard that several of our friends have already started doing the same thing. They use the car alarms when someone gets close to the house at night. We have both big dogs sleeping next to the cars in the front fenced in area and us right above them on the roof. Overall, it was another great day in paradise and we accomplished a few things too, except for my mojito. “Ley Seca” is still being enforced. Which basically means no MOJITOS! DAMN IT!

Day 11: The Post Office

I finally fell asleep on the roof overlooking the cars around 2:00 AM. We had moved the Audi and the Solara inside the fence last night as they were the only cars that had gas left in them. We also put the dogs in the front yard all night. Liam’s Infiniti was outside the gate. All night long we had strangers walking up and down the street in front of the house. They had flashlights and were shining them all over the place. It was very frustrating. I didn’t know who they were or where they were from. They were probably bored teenagers but I couldn’t take any chances. I will admit fatigue is starting to set in. I am exhausted and frustrated.

At 6:00 AM Liam headed to Mayaguez to get his car filled with fuel. We have a friend that has a friend that owns a gas station. I hope that works out. He is supposed to help clean the school again today and on Monday the school is supposed to be opened again. The school told us yesterday that they have over 3000 gallons of water but no power. They can have school without power so they are going to start next week regardless. The only issue with that is getting fuel to go back and forth daily. And the lack of access to cash to get fuel. I hope things start working soon. We have not seen the National Guard yet. Which concerns me as it was announced that the local police will not patrol the streets at night due to Marshall Law. I think it is time to get a gun. Right now I only have a spear gun which is useless for anything larger than a lobster or small fish. I don’t think they will try to break in and steal fish, do you? Anyway, todays plan is too wash clothes, check out the post office find access to cash and get some food. We finished the last of the freezer/refrigerator food yesterday. The fridge is broken now so I guess we will be doing canned food if we can find some.

On our journey we found a friend with a Sat Phone. He offered to let me use it. I called my dad again to let him know how bad things were getting. We talked for several minutes until we got cut off. As today progressed we did not find cash, or get the clothes washed. We did however go to Aguadilla. I was told by a random truck driver to report to the Aguada Post Office. We drove over there to find that facility under two/three feet of mud. They claim it is sewage not mud but either way it is pretty gross! No one was working there so we drove up to the Aguadilla Post Office. The closer we got it was clear that the troops were coming. We saw Red Cross trucks, National Guard trucks and FEMA trucks. It was a relief to see movement and immobilization of emergency support. They have not made it to Rincon yet but I am confident they will be in the Rincon area by Monday. The Rincon Post Office should be partially operational on Monday. We will not have power but we will be open to hand out parcels. At least that is the plan.

Anyway, as we were driving back to Rincon we saw so much more devastation in Aguadilla than Rincon. It was far worse up there. The entire ocean front park was gone. The ocean front 15 story police station building was missing almost all the windows. The Ice Skating Rink was destroyed. Yes, we have the only ice skating rink in the Caribbean. It was kind of cool. All the streets in and out of the beach front area were unpassable. Photos can never actually describe the scene.

We returned home around 5:00 PM and made dinner. It was one of the fanciest dinners we have made so far. Rice, green olives, onions and hotdogs all mixed together. It doesn’t sound that good but with a little soy sauce it was great. Liam came home shortly after and finished off all the remaining rice mixture and we all headed off to bed around 8:00 PM.

Before going to bed I asked if anyone else had been having nightmares lately. I mean nightmares you remember when you wake up or that wake you up. They all have been experiencing the same thing. I won’t share what my dreams are about but I will say it scared me enough to wake me up. I hope tonight is better. I mean no nightmares or midnight walkers. I am still perched above the cars on the roof with the dogs below. I hope I can fall fast asleep and have happy dreams.

Day 12: September 30th, 2017, 2:30 AM

It was a quiet night no street walkers, it was kind of strange. I can the see the glow of lights over Mayaguez and Aguadilla again. It appears both towns are starting to get power. It is still possible to see the milky way and all the stars. They are so bright it lights our upper deck. All night long the wind has been blowing at 15 mph allowing all the lose roof tiles to smack around. It was actually a cold night in the 70’s. The dogs continue to bark at nothing driving my paranoia. The smells are becoming more and more intense. The garbage cans all over are overflowing with rotting food. The dead animals are starting to smell. We noticed that the insects are in greater abundance. I think this is due to the lack of birds. The skies are empty of birds. Every morning I used to have a wood pecker that would land on the hand rail and stare at himself in the reflection of the glass window. He was kind of vain. We haven’t seen him since the hurricane. The hurricane either scared all the birds away or the worse killed the birds. I hope we start to start to see some progress today. It’s been a long two weeks. Found Wifi YEAH!!!!!

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